Womack, Dixie Chicks take home the crowns

Southern darlings ruled the Academy of Country Music Awards on Wednesday with Lee Ann Womack and the Dixie Chicks claiming three honors each.

The Chicks took home honors for Entertainer of the Year, top vocal group and best video, marking a career total of seven awards from the academy.

Womack won for best single, song and vocal event for the tune “I Hope You Dance,” which she performed with the neo-country band Sons of the Desert.

“I want to thank country radio,” Womack said, accepting the award for vocal event of the year. “Thank you, thank you, thank you for playing that song so many times.”

Co-winners in the best-song category for “I Hope You Dance” were Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sellers.

Martie Siedel accepted the Dixie Chicks honors alone, saying bandmate Natalie Maines was busy taking care of her newborn baby and sister Emily Erwin was “trying to have a baby of her own.” The Chicks won their second award for the video to their comical revenge fantasy “Goodbye Earl,” which featured “NYPD Blue’s” Dennis Franz as a ne’er-do-well husband who gets knocked off for his abusiveness.

The vocal group award marked the third consecutive win in the category for the all-women band.

The often-snubbed Toby Keith won twice, including album of the year for “How Do You Like Me Now?!”, which featured his in-your-face ballad of the same name. He also won for best male vocalist. “How do you like me NOW?” a smiling Keith hollered, flexing his muscles onstage. “I’ve waited a long time for this! Nine years!”

Award favorite Faith Hill won for female vocalist, her seventh win from the Academy of Country Music.

The 18-year-old country-pop star LeAnn Rimes hosted the 36th annual awards show, which was broadcast from the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

Rimes, who was 13 in 1996 when she scored the hit “Blue,” is currently involved in lawsuits against her father and record company over a contract she signed as a minor. The singer mocked her legal woes and recent tabloid headlines with a parody of Kenny Rogers’ broken-heart hit “Lucille.”

“They say she’s dyslexic, that she’s anorexic, that she’s gone and run off with a fan,” Rimes sang mockingly. “Tell me what’s going on with LeAnn.”

Rogers accepted the special Career Achievement Award, which is reserved for artists who have made a comeback after falling out of fashion. The Pioneer Award was presented to veteran singer Barbara Mandrell for expanding the boundaries of country music.

“I don’t cry very much from sadness but I cry from joy,” an emotional Mandrell said backstage. The singer, who has retired from performing to take care of her children, joked, “I have never worked so hard in my life for no money.”

She said she has no plans to return to music.

REALITY RE-ENACTMENT: CBS’s “Survivor” was yawn rigged. Feigned outrage, much beating of bosom, blah blah. Seething brainchild and executive producer Mark Burnett admitted Tuesday that some of the Outback challenges were re-enacted for easier editing. For example, an aerial helicopter shot of a swim challenge would show all those cameras tagging behind the competitors. “So we had stand-ins re-swim the race” for the helicopter crew, he said. As for ethics, Burnett ungrammatically told the New York Times, “I absolutely couldn’t care less I’m making great television.” Counterfeit righteous indignation and wring hands.

Shocking yawner No. 2: The network, fat with advertising money, is supporting him. “What Mark is talking about is nothing more than window dressing,” a network spokesperson said. “It doesn’t involve the contestants and doesn’t in any way influence the outcome of any challenge, tribal council, or change the view of reality as it occurred. The series is exactly what it appears to be 16 people battling the elements and each other.” Ummm, except for the fake parts.

Burnett, who has always claimed the reality was real, confessed “I don’t know what the line is” in manipulation, at a Museum of Television & Radio panel in Los Angeles called “What is Reality on Television?” Time to vote him off the planet Earth.

CARTOON FINANCES: Danville resident Scott Adams will fearlessly go where Stephen King bit the dust. The “Dilbert” cartoonist plans to sell his new novel, “God’s Debris” online. The book, which is halfway between fiction and non-fiction and contains none of his daily comic characters, will be a deal at $4.95. “I can sell it at half the normal price, and no one is making me promote it by flying to Bakersfield to shake hands with sweaty strangers,” he said.


Birthdays: Sportscaster Pat Summerall (71), TV and radio personality Gary Owens (65), rhythm-and-blues singer Henry Fambrough of The Spinners (63), writer-producer-director Jim Abrahams (57), singer Donovan Leitch (55), singer Dave Mason (55), rhythm-and-blues singer Ron Banks of The Dramatics (50), rock singer Bono of U2 (41), rock musician Krist Novoselic of Nirvana (36), rapper Young M-C (34), actor Erik Palladino (33), rock musician Jesse Vest of Tantric (24), actor Kenan Thompson (23), rhythm-and-blues singer Jason Dalyrimple of Soul for Real (21).

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from Associated Press and Knight Ridder Newspaper reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail